Sharon Keller’s Memorial Service

Title: Sharon’s Memorial Service

[Audio http://ab86qw.bay.livefilestore.com/y1p2fOtZPySsRhqs7Jzq1xnOW8gUvfJfenBSHrCavG0Yp1n0JwccHPEBWcKLIzBEQ3EEx-t1tpNnj8/8-17-08sharonsmemorialservice.mp3%5D

Text: Psalm 23

Time: August 27, 2008

Tonight we are here to remember the life of Sharon Keller, who most of you knew because she lived here at the Hotel Jamestown on the 8th floor. She died after she had a stroke and fell in front of the Jamestown Ice Area. She was rushed to the hospital in Buffalo where she died two days later. It’s really a shock to all of us because while people have strokes and fall, they don’t usually die from them, or if they do, they don’t usually die that fast. But that is what happened to Sharon. I knew Sharon from the church services she attended here at the Hotel Jamestown on Sunday mornings at 10am. We have a church service every Sunday and Sharon began attending about a year or so ago. She found out about this church, Crosspointe Church, because she was up and about one Sunday morning doing her laundry when our church service had finished. She saw the people leaving the recreation room and was interested in meeting with me as pastor. She wanted to find out if I would see her for some counseling, which I said I would. But that was the start of Sharon’s involvement with Crosspointe Church. And since that time, she came fairly regularly. At the end of her life, she had attended the Sunday before her death. What was encouraging about the end of her life is that we all could see that the Lord was doing something in her life because she had just got herself a Bible she could read and had told everyone that she had just finished reading the whole book of Matthew in the New Testament. That was very encouraging because that was unusual for Sharon to read from the Bible that much. She also helped Latta and Hilma Hancock up to their apartment after the church service on Sunday. So everyone sensed that something positive was taking place in Sharon’s life, and then, that’s when she died, just a few days later, so it was a shock to us all. Now, it’s my firm believe that Sharon is with the Lord in heaven at this very moment, because I really did see strong evidences of faith, especially at the end of her life. I don’t know everything about Sharon or her past life; I’m told that she went through a very hard life. Nothing was ever easy for Sharon, I’m told. But thank God that when we die with faith and trust in Jesus, we are taken to a place where it doesn’t get any better than that. We are taken to a place so much better than this life. That is where Sharon is today, in that better place, in heaven with Jesus. All the past hardships and troubles she went through don’t matter anymore because she’s home with the Lord now. Thank God. But I’d like to take a few minutes at this time to look at the 23rd Psalm and see how relevant it is for tonight as we remember our friend Sharon this last time. Psalm 23, let me read that for us (read). Now the Psalm is broken up into 3 parts. First, the part that talks about life now. Second, the part that talks about death. Third, the part that talks about eternal life. Sharon is now experiencing that third part now. But let’s look at all the parts.

First, the Lord is with us in this life. Psalm 23:1-3, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. That simply means that no matter what needs I have in life, if I look to the Lord as my shepherd, he’ll always provide whatever I need. Not also what I want or wish to have, but always what I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. Sometimes the Lord makes us do things that we wouldn’t naturally want to do but are really good for us to do anyway. Sometimes we get going so fast and so busy that we don’t take time to thank God for what we have and what he’s provided for us, so sometimes God has to make us take a break. Sometimes God uses health problems to get our attention, while we are staring up at the ceiling in our bed or stuck inside all day recovering for something, then he sometimes gets our attention and we begin to pray and read our Bible seriously because we have such big needs. Sometimes he has to make us lie down and slow down to get our attention. But then he leads us beside quiet waters and restores our soul. Those are those times of inspiration that he sends us. It could be in prayer, it could be reading the Bible, it could be taking a walk in the quiet of the evening or sitting in a park watching nature, but however he does it God can inspire our hearts and encourage us to keep going. He guides us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. He will guide us if we let him, but often times we don’t let him because we think we know more than anyone else about what is good for us. If we would only turn to God to guide us, he would. She was learning how to trust in God to guide her. Not that she got it all right. She was a very strong willed individual as some of you know, and it was hard for the Lord to get through to her, as it is to many of us here. But I could see little signs that God was getting through to her in certain areas of her life as she opened her life more to God. We all need to open our lives to God. Have you given your life to God through faith in Jesus Christ? All you have to do is admit you’ve sinned, admit you’ve disobeyed God’s will, but you want to turn your life around and trust in God now. Give your life to God before it’s too late. Let him lead you.

Second, the Lord is with us at the moment of death. Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, your rod and your staff they comfort me.” That phrase, the valley of the shadow of death is really a euphemism for going through the death experience. It really means dying and going through death. The valley of the shadow of death is the moment of death. And it says we don’t have to fear evil or anything bad – if we have faith in God through Jesus Christ. The promise is for those who place their faith in God as they are going through death. The promise isn’t for those who don’t have faith. I’d hate to be someone who didn’t believer in God or didn’t trust in Jesus Christ. When they go through the valley of death they have no such promise of comfort. In fact, I bet it’s a terrible experience for them, the fear, the anxiety, the unknown fate they face. I don’t know exactly what Sharon went through at the moment of her death, or from the point of her stroke or fall, but I do know that she believed in the Lord and put her faith in him. Because she had faith, whatever she went through God was there with her. Now there is some question whether she had a stroke and fell, or whether she fell hard and had a stroke as a result. But it really doesn’t matter now because she’s with the Lord anyway. Now the promise is for everyone who will put their faith in Jesus, the promise that he’ll be with you no matter what happens to you at death. Nobody knows how they will die. Nobody really knows when they will die, but we can know that Jesus will be with us if we put our faith in him. Do you have saving faith in Jesus Christ today? Do you know for sure that Jesus would be there to help you through the death experience? When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, do you know for sure that Jesus will be there? If not, confess your sins, repent of your disobedience to God and turn to him with faith in Jesus today. Don’t put it off. Like I said, we were all shocked at the suddenness of Sharon’s death. That could happen to any of us here. Be ready to die, by getting right with God today.

Third, the Lord is with us for all eternity. Psalm 23: “You prepare a table before me n the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This section speaks of forever. Do you know where you will spend your forever. Now the Bible says there are two places: heaven and hell. You don’t have to go to hell, you don’t have to be punished for your sins forever. You can go to heaven by putting your faith in Jesus Christ tonight. What would Sharon say tonight if she could come back here and talk to everyone? She would probably say, “Make sure you have saving faith in Jesus. Don’t put off believing. Don’t waste your life on petty, small things. Focus on God and doing God’s will.” Some of you have gone to church before and know that you are not walking with God tonight. Some of you have never, ever surrendered your heart to Jesus. The 23rd Psalm reminds us that God will be with us wherever we are: in life, at death, and for all eternity. But all of that is conditioned on one thing: our faith. If we trust in God, if we pray to God, if we do his will, that shows we believe in him and we will be with him in life, at death and forever in heaven. What does your life show? Does it show a life of faith in God? Or does it show a life of trusting in your own thinking? Like I said before, Sharon was a very strong willed person who for a long time lived her life not according to the will of God but according to the will of Sharon. It was only in the later part of her life did she really begin to take God seriously. Now nobody’s perfect, Sharon certainly was not, but I could see real progress in her, especially towards the end. Do you know where you will spend eternity? Are you sure? Why not make sure tonight, at this memorial service. Pray this prayer with me.

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